In last month’s column, I promised to delve deeper into the technology that addresses climate change which in addition to war, plagues and world hunger is one of the major problems we (the human race) must face, or not only will we go down a very ugly path in the near future, we will take a lot of other life forms (like puppies) along with us.
Please don’t tell me that, in your humble opinion, climate change is not really real but it’s a hoax perpetrated by the Liberal Left Government. I view myself as a Centrist and believe anyone can believe in anything they choose but the test of the belief should not be “majority rules” — that’s one of the reasons we invented science. As the saying goes, “The only way to refute science is with more science”.
A well-known cause of climate change is the use of non-renewable sources like coal, oil and gas to heat and cool our homes and power our vehicles. A solution is to find renewable sources of energy that will not cause chemicals to be released into the atmosphere.
The idea of “renewable energy” is based on the capture and storage of energy that is usually wasted in a process. A simple example is your backyard compost heap (which during the decomposition process produces a large amount of heat into the air and is essentially wasted.)
What if there were a way to capture and possibly store the heat energy released which could be reused to heat a home or turn a turbine to convert the heat to electric energy? Well, good news folks…scientists and engineers are investigating that problem and are finding many possible solutions, none of which are mutually exclusive choices. In other words, a solution may consist of one or more approaches.
This is similar to the gun control issue where politicians are proposing returning to the 1994 ban on automatic weapons and the other side claims, “It’s not a Gun issue, it’s a mental health issue.” Well, guess what? These are not mutually exclusive choices — a reasonable solution is to do both and let the Congress thrash out the costs, which they are elected to do.
“There is a renewable-energy technology used for heating and cooling that doesn’t always get the appreciation it deserves: ground-source heat pumps. These systems, which draw heat out of the ground to heat buildings in winter and pump heat from buildings back into the ground to cool them in summer, are four to five times more efficient than fossil-fuel systems, and the energy isn’t intermittent like it is with wind and solar. Geothermal heat pumps can be configured into networks that connect buildings on a street, moving energy on demand or storing it when it isn’t needed.”
Another approach is using Carbon Capture Sequestration (CCS). Since fossil fuel emissions released into the atmosphere are the main cause of climate change, we have only two sensible options: Wean ourselves off of fossil fuel by finding new sources to generate electricity, or keeping these emissions from the atmosphere or any other environment that supports the lives of the inhabitants of this planet.
“CCS involves the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial processes, such as steel and cement production, or from the burning of fossil fuels in power generation. This carbon is then transported from where it was produced, via ship or in a pipeline, and stored deep underground in geological formations. (“What is Carbon Capture and Storage?”, nationalgrid.com).
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University has written, “Carbon capture and storage is going to be the only effective way we have in the short term to prevent our steel industry, cement manufacture and many other processes from continuing to pour emissions into the atmosphere,”
Another technology captures waste energy, usually from an industrial process. A simple example of this is when silage and manure from farm animals releases gas as it decomposes. An actual local example of how this happens is described in more detail in Carly Newton’s excellent article, “Turning Waste to Energy” , (Press Republican, June 4 and 5, Page D1.) The detailed information as to exactly how this is accomplished is more detailed and complicated than you might think, involving how methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) interact to pollute our air. For the details search on: “Extracting Thermal Energy from Composting”; to see the pros and cons, search on “Advantages & Disadvantages of Composting.”
In conclusion, according to nationalgrid.com, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted that, “If we are to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and limit future temperature increases to 1.5 degrees, we must do more than just increasing efforts to reduce emissions — we also need to deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere. CCS is one of these technologies and can therefore play an important role in tackling global warming.”
In many past columns, I have gleefully and ruefully pointed out the flaws and problems caused by the introduction of new technologies and it warms my heart to see it redeeming itself by addressing perhaps the most important threat to our planet: climate change. Good luck and God bless our children and grandchildren who will wear the brunt of this challenge.
Dr. Stewart A. Denenberg is an emeritus professor of computer science at Plattsburgh State, retiring recently after 30 years there. Before that, he worked as a technical writer, programmer and consultant to the U.S. Navy and private Industry. Send comments and suggestions to his blog at www.tec-soc.blogspot.com, where there is additional text and links. He can also be reached at email@example.com.